July 14, 2017 by mshokie
When I had my semi-annual portfolio review with the school district this spring, I was trying to test my theory that first impression helps me breeze through the review. For prior reviews, I presented a look as if I was going on a job interview: suit, full make-up, blown-out hair. This time, I aimed for more of a natural look; longish skirt, peasant top, Birkenstocks, wild hair, minimal make-up. My intended effect, however, may have been subdued by the mom who walked in ahead of me in workout clothes. Compared to her, I still looked like I was dressed to impress.
The other uncontrolled variable in my experiment was that the district was changing a couple of procedures, so the reviewers were a bit off their game. They were using a new form to document the reviews, doing more of a narrative than a checklist to document the reviews. They also did the verification for next school year and gave me the notification letter that I will be homeschooling next school year. They used to mail out the verification and the notification in the late summer.
I kept the content of my portfolio similar to my previous review and just brought in my usual binder. I had the same reviewer as the very first time I reviewed in Fall 2015. That time, he had a lot of commentary on, well, everything we were doing. This time, he kept all of his random thoughts on my curriculum content to himself.
The review went fine. As always, the reviewer commented on how well organized my portfolio was. I was not impressed with the narrative the reviewer provided. It did not accurately reflect what I was showing him. He wrote down random book titles from my resource list as if they were my main spine textbook. He noted what unit chapter we were on, which is meaningless since we do not necessarily follow the sequential order of any curriculum, particularly since he did not write down the correct textbook in the first place.
My experiment for the fall review will be to bring less “evidence”. Talking to parents in other school districts and researching other counties policies within Maryland, it seems that 3-6 pieces of work per subject are acceptable there. So, that I am going to try that next time, which will probably be in November. That does not mean we are actually doing less at home. I just want to find out what the edge of the expectations is, especially since I will have a younger child to review for in a couple of years and I do not want to make her do worksheets just for the sake of having portfolio material.